Tag Archives: bible

Hair today, gone tomorrow.

A snippet of the history of hair.

I’ve been thinking about hair recently. There’s a little story to behind every hairstyle I find, and it made me think about the social history of hair. Consider the Afro hairstyle for example; it used to be a marker of status and identity (maybe because it requires a lot of care?) in pre-colonial African societies and turned into an important symbol for black pride during the sixties in the US. The history of the Afro as a whole is really interesting and is something I think everyone should know something about.

Head-shaving as a punishment also has a place in the history of the Afro. Cutting or shaving off someone’s hair is interesting because while it seems like a odd punishment it makes a lot of sense when you think about what hair symbolized. When the slave ships came to Africa, the people who were taken as slaves had their hair shaved off as a way of dehumanize them (and avoid head lice). Head-shaving as a punishment (mainly for women) goes all the way back the bible:

Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head–it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. (NRSV,1┬áCorinthians 11:3-10)

It’s not a big surprise that head-shaving was a common punishment for women who were accused of committing adultery during the dark ages. In the previous season of American Horror Story, one of the characters got her hair cut off as a punishment for supposedly being a necrophiliac. I think photos of the public head-shaving of women during and after WW2 are one of the most telling depictions of hair as a symbol of social status and identity. That’s not even mentioning the incredibly fucked up logic behind shaving a woman’s head just because she stood accused of having relations or even just worked with Nazis.

french1

Something worth noting is that while some male “collaborators” had their head shaved, it was mostly women standing accused and punished by head-shaving. Shaving off a woman’s hair is undoubtedly different from shaving off a man’s head, which ties back to the bible quote posted above.

A woman’s hair was seen as a symbol of her femininity and beauty. Just think about the media reactions when Britney Spears shaved off her hair during her public breakdown. The famous bob cut, for example, isn’t just any hairstyle, but goes back a century to Irene Castle, whose short bob cut (and reactions that followed) played a role in the change in norms and attitudes against women in the 1920ies. Women were supposed to have long hair and men short; something that also caused a controversy when it became a fashion fad for men to grow out their hair. You would think that we would have moved on from that notion today, but just ask a few short-haired women about whether they have faced any prejudice due to their short hair and I’m sure most of them would say yes. A lot of (dumb) people still associate short hair on women with homosexuality, hatred of men and a lack of femininity. You would think people would know better in this day and age!

I’ve just mentioned a couple of hair related history snippets, but of course there is a whole lot more to be found for those that are interested. Dreads, the controversy of wearing veils, the business behind buying hair extensions made from Indian hair and different tribes that never cut their hair are all fascinating. If there was a book that just dealt with the history of hair, I would most likely buy it. If there isn’t, dibs on writing it.

Have a lovely evening, everyone!

Some links/sources if you want to read more:

http://abagond.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/black-womens-hair-a-brief-history-1400-1900/

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/jun/05/women-victims-d-day-landings-second-world-war

http://iranian.com/Women/2003/May/Veil/p.html

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Guidelines for converting atheists ^_^

I had a run in with a Jehovah’s witnesses that bore a striking likeness to John Lithglow a couple of days ago, which inspired me to write this post. I’m an atheist that loves talking about philosophy and theology, and I quite like hearing people’s theories about things even though I don’t necessarily agree with them. That being said, there are some reoccurring arguments that seem to come up when someone tries to convince you that their religion is the way to go, and I can’t imagine they’re efficient. I decided to put together a little post about what kind of arguments are pretty much pointless when talking to an atheist.

1) Argument: “The theory of evolution is cold and meaningless. Believing that god created the earth means that you believe someone is looking after you and that there is a purpose in life”.

Why it’s pointless: Few people would recommend believing in whatever reality makes you happy despite the evidence for or against it. I would be happier believing there was a purpose in life, that any thoughts, feelings and memories I ever had didn’t just disappear when I died, that my dog is smiling down from dog heaven or that my letter from Hogwarts will show up any day now (and it just got lost for 12 years). Most people don’t believe in evolution because it makes them happy, they believe in it because they are convinced of the evidence supporting it. Telling them what they want to believe is like telling them they would like pancakes but there’s no ingredients to make it.

2) Argument: “The science behind evolution is flawed and misleading, but the science supporting the existence of god is perfect”.

Why it’s pointless: Some people are going to disagree, but to cut to the chase: Unless you’re being really objective about this it’s just embarrassing to try to support your claim with science. You can’t trash evolution, one of the most accepted scientific theories of our time, and then in the next breath highlight a small selection of research supporting the existence of god and expect people to find it credible. Five minutes on Google and whoever you tried to convince will side eye you for presenting misleading information. Personally, I don’t believe people should look for god in science at all, but if you’re going down that route it’s something to keep in mind.

3) Argument: “It says so in the holy book, so it must be true”

Why it’s pointless: It’s pretty self-explanatory, really. A religious text is only holy to the people who already believe in it; to everyone else it’s just a text like every other. If you want to use these kind of argument for decisions in your own life, that makes more sense, but when trying to convert others into your religion or make a case why something is immoral it’s really quite pointless. Best stay clear of that kind of argument all together.

Tagged , , , , , , ,